Stop the Whining!

posted on 27th of october, 2009

There seems to be a lot of whining at the moment in the 'blogesphere' about how crap microstock is and how it's killing the industry, notably from stock professionals. As a pro graphic designer, I can feel their pain to a point as with the advances in computing and software everyone now thinks they are a designer and logos are obtained on the cheap. But as any professional knows, there is a massive difference between quality and quantity and a simple logo doesn't make a brand.
Anyway moving back to the point....Photographers (the good ones) have been milking the stock cow for many years and now technology has caught them up. The industry has changed - get over it and deal with it. Some are, by embracing microstock and expanding their market. Others just seem to slag it off.
Well from the other side of the fence i.e. a buyer, microstock is a good thing. I've bought bespoke and stock photography for 20 years and the necessity to pay hundreds for a shot just isn't required anymore. Yea, sure you need a photoshoot when it's specific and the client has the budget, but these days they are less willing when they can get close to the same for a lot less.
The other interesting theme seems to be how much cash people 'make' from microstock. The holy grail seems to be a good strong portfolio in a few libraries which generate a good income to live off. This seems totally unrealistic. The microstock industry model is clearly weighted towards the libraries and if you are pinning your earnings on microstock then that's a tough living! 
So at this point there will be a select few who are shouting "I live of my microstock!"....but for every one of these, there are 1000 who don't. It should be treated for what it is - a supplement to your core business, just look at the microstock business model - you do the work, give to us for free, and we'll give you a minute return of the profit. Can you really live off a model like that? Didn't think so.
And so, the moral of the story is, Microstock is good, it has it's place and is very useful, but it is no substitute for bespoke quality. As for earnings, it should be seen as additional income and not core.
Oh, and if you do live off microstock...well done you!

Comments (5)

Posted by Gilmourbto2001 on November 19, 2009
No whining from me - I'm having a blast with Microstock. I couldn't sell my photos the traditional way. The internet has opened so many doors for those of us who would be on the outside looking in the old way. Gotta adapt and keep up with modern technology to stay alive.
Posted by Bradcalkins on October 27, 2009
I see two sides to microstock. There are the many photos that are relatively straightforward to do, and are the kind that a professional photographer would probably never get hired to do anyways. What blogger who needs a photo of a low flow toilet would hire a photographer? For many users of microstock it fills the niche of getting a low cost photo where they would have just taken it themselves or done without. Once you start getting professional models going, etc. you are starting to tread on the traditional photographer's business - but only for generic applications. I don't think Chase Jarvis or Michael Grecco are worried about losing commercial clients to microstock!

As to making a living at it - I won't claim I do, but the monthly cheque is starting to seriously supplement my income and more than justifies the time...
Posted by Dmccale on October 27, 2009
great post and so true.As an amateur I decided to submit some of my graphics,Both do ok and it is fun.Just a side income.I also think if you do not enjoy what you are doing.DO SOMETHING ELSE
thanks Debbie
Posted by Creativei on October 27, 2009
Yeah its true, this cannot be a core source of income, but for some yeah it is, also it depends on geographical locations.
Posted by Davidwatmough on October 27, 2009
As one who has 122 uploads after 5 months I was very interested in your post which is clearly correct. Treat microstock as a supplement to not an income. But what I don't know is if an image is bought with all rights and costs £350 roughly what proportion does the author get. There probably answers to all my questions somewhere but I am concentrating on getting uploads of concept type images and trying to use Dreamstime to raise my game. The value of Dreamstime lies partly in teaching what images are wanted and what quality will satisfy the market and administrators. It is in my view a valuable tutorial.
 Business Angel. 
Until I joined Dreamstime I would never have taken or conceived of this image. A vote of thanks to DT. David.

Comments (5)

This article has been read 945 times. 3 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Antloft.

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